Care Guide for Ember Tetras – Orange Jewels of the Nano Aquarium
A staple of the freshwater nano aquarium world is the ember tetra. Just imagine a school of tiny, flame-colored fish darting back and forth amongst a lush forest of green aquarium plants. Plus, its peaceful nature and hardiness makes it an attractive choice for both beginners and veterans in the fishkeeping hobby. If you’ve never tried keeping ember tetras before, then keep reading to find out why they’re such a top-selling species at our fish store.
What are Ember Tetras, you ask?
Hyphessobrycon Amandae is a common pet tetra from Brazil. It’s part of the same genus with many other well-known tetras like the Von Rio Tetra, black neon tetra, or lemon tetra. This species only grows up to 0.8 inch (2 cm), but it packs a powerful punch with its bright, red-orange body that is slightly translucent with a coppery sheen. Unlike many other nano fish, ember tetras are relatively outgoing, especially in large groups, and won’t dart away as soon as you approach their tank.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Ember Tetras
They are small enough that you can either keep them in a 5-gallon mini tank with one school or several large tanks with many. They come from mildly acidic waters but are adaptable enough to handle pH of 5.5-7.5, 72-82degF (22-28degC), and very soft to moderately hard water. A sponge filter sponge or pre-filter sponge can be used to gently filter the water. Slow flow is preferred. The ember tetras will show brighter colors in tanks that have a darker substrate or background. Hobbyists like to add catappa and driftwood to give their tanks a South American look.
How much ember tetra should I keep with me? Tetras are naturally social animals and they feel at their best when surrounded in the company of their own species. They don’t school in tight groups, but rather hang out in loose groups. They are small and we prefer to have 6-10 so they have more impact in the aquarium.
What fish can live with ember tetras? They are the perfect community fish and do fine with any similar-sized, peaceful animals that won’t eat them. They can be kept with other nano schooling fish, such as danios, tetras, or rasboras. We like to pair them up with corydoras catfish, hatchetfish, or pencilfish that live in the bottom of the aquarium as they prefer to swim in the middle. Plus, their gregarious nature makes them well-suited as dither fish for Apistogramma dwarf cichlids or other timid creatures. They also get along well with algae-eating fish like dwarf shrimp and otocinclus catsfish. They will not eat adult shrimp but will take baby shrimp as a prey.
Can I put a betta fish with ember tetras? A blue betta fish or powder blue dwarf gourami would look amazing as a centerpiece fish among a sea of ember tetras because blue and orange are complementary colors. If they become aggressive, you should be prepared to remove them.
Ember Tetras in Community Tank
What are Ember Tetras able to eat?
They are omnivores, which means they eat small invertebrates, zooplankton, and plant matter. Even though they aren’t picky eaters like other ember tetras, they have tiny mouths that favor slow-sinking foods. To ensure a healthy and long life, ember tetras need to be fed a variety of fish food. Our favorites foods are:
Nano pellets Crushed flakes Baby brine shrimp Easi Fry and Small Fishfood Daphnia-Cyclops-Rotifers
How to Breed Ember Tetras
It can be hard to sex ember tetras, so we recommend buying at least six fish to have a higher chance of getting both males and females. The males are slimmer in profile and the females are more round, especially when seen from above. Because they are egg scatterers, they don’t need to be supervised and will prey on their eggs and the newborn fry. That being said, ember tetras can be bred in a colony setting where the parents are kept with the young. The key is to put them in a seasoned, matured aquarium with lots of natural microfauna for the fry to feed on and dense plants (like Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ and water sprite) for the fry to hide amongst.
A school containing ember tetras, in a heavily planted tank
For greater yields, use a mature, small tank that has a sponge filter. Place a layer of javamoss or DIY spawning mop under the plastic mesh to cover the tank’s bottom. The barrier prevents the adults and eggs from getting to them by allowing the eggs to pass through the holes. You can also add some catappa leaves on the ground to create biofilm for the fry to eat and slightly acidify the water if you have higher pH. After feeding and conditioning the adults to spawn, you can transfer them to your breeding aquarium. After spawning has completed, you should remove the adults immediately if there are any eggs.
For babies to thrive, they need very small foods, such as vinegar eels, infusoria, and powdered fries. You can feed them small meals several times per day and make sure to change the water every day. You may be able for them to start eating baby salt shrimp after a few weeks depending on their water temperature. This will increase their survival rate and growth. If there is a significant difference in the size of your baby fish, it may be necessary to move the larger fry to a different grow-out tank to ensure that they don’t become outcompeted.
Aquarium Co-Op cannot ship live fish but we do have a list to help you find reputable online vendors that can ship aquarium animals to your home. For more inspiration, check out our article on the top five nano fish that will live in 5-gallon aquariums at your desk or office.